EAST END OF LONDON PHOTO GALLERY & COMMENTARY
London's East End Synagogues, cemeteries and more......
My personal journey through the Jewish East End of London
e.mail thoughts & memories to:
wanted and more letters...phew...finally getting things up to
tours with Phil.....are you a
visitor to London, or maybe a family/individual/club/organisation
wishing to discover the Jewish East End of London or Jewish Soho in
London's West End? If so, I would love the
opportunity to take you round. My fee is modest and my enthusiasm is
lead tours around Whitechapel, Spitalfields, Stepney Green, Jewish Soho
and more. If you have a particular interest you wish to explore
please let me know. For more information and photos of recent
tours please click
recent walk for Sutton and District synagogue
enquire about a group or individual tour please e.mail
I'm presently reading Mitchener's 'The Source' - a great book
which offers a peep into the history and development of Judaeism.
It caused me to think back to my own memories of Jewish people
in the East End, which brought me to your site.
I was born in 1947, in Leyton E10, perhaps not considered the
East End 'proper'. As was the custom then, most of my father's
family lived in our street, in houses soon to be demolished
under the 'slum clearance' programme. They worked in small
factories close by, mostly tailoring and for Jewish 'guvnors'.
My father, uncles and aunts worked for Arthur Finlay (Jewish
despite the Irish name!) as Hoffman pressers, overlockers and
machinists, and often commented on their luck and preference for
working for a Jewish guvnor. What is not always acknowledged is
the contempt in which the London working class was then held by
those in positions of authority. I felt this keenly as a child,
and later when I attended a grammar school, where my speech,
manners and culture were openly denigrated.
The reason given by my relatives for their preference for
working for Jews, was that 'a Jew may think he's better looking
than you, richer than you, or better educated than you, but he
never thinks he's (a) better (man) than you.'
Echoes of 'Robert Burns 'a man's a man for all that'!
This meant so much to them that when Arthur Finlay and his
family embarked on a new venture, pig farming (yes) in Stansted,
Essex, we went with them. From tailoring to pig farming - I
don't think any of them knew what they were doing - but we
stayed there for 3 years before returning to our Leyton slum.
At that time I began to understand what my relatives meant
regarding the Jewish lack of condescention. Jewish doctors were
preferred in my community, because they didn't appear to look
down their nose at us, and were always direct - e.g. 'don't come
to me with a cough when you're smoking 20 fags a day' (said
while puffing his own cigarette at his desk). Our own doctors,
Stone and Silkoff, were at a premium and people waited years to
'get on their panel'. Those lucky enough to be on it were
willing to wait hours in a crowded waiting room (no
appointments!) to see them.
Dr. Stone was an older man, who never worked Saturdays. Not
because he was religiously observant, but because he was a
fanatic Spurs supporter who attended all their games. Dr.
Silkoff was a Polish émigré, a young good looking man who worked
Saturdays and made all the house calls. We were ashamed of our
living conditions, a slum condemned for demolition long before
the war. While neighbours were welcome visitors (they usually
shared similar living conditions) 'outsiders' were not invited
in to witness our poverty. However, Dr. Silkoff managed to make
the necessary house calls without betraying any surprise or
distaste, and avoiding any unnecessary intrusion. He was a
marvellous doctor who could have excelled in private practice,
but his political beliefs kept him in East London among the
Many years later, my own experiences confirmed my family's
perception of the benefits of Jewish employment. As an abandoned
mother of two small children, money was very tight. I found work
in silver service waitressing, which I could do on those
weekends when the children were with their absent father.
We worked the usual 'do's - from Masonic ladies nights in the
local council hall to Barmitzvahs and weddings at the top West
End hotels. All the waitresses agreed, whether it was the
lowliest Masonic order in the local hall, or at the Royal Yacht
Club, we were looked down on and treated like serfs. However at
the Royal Gardens or Grosvenor Hotels, the most expensive
(Jewish) functions, we were treated as friends helping out, and
this was unexceptional.
The other thing that impressed us was the speed of social
mobility in the Jewish community - so unlike our own. We would
often see three generations represented at a Barmitzvah - a
grandparent with a strong Eastern European accent who might sing
a song in Yiddish or play a folk song on a violin. The parents
would be (obviously) affluent and educated, and the Barmitzvah
boy from public school, full of confidence and charm and able to
hold and amuse an audience of 200 people. There was no
noticeable resentment of them, probably because of their pride
in and admiration of their antecedents. No hiding away of their
poor, working class origins.
My husband attended the Davenant Foundation school, then sited
in Mile End Road. His fellow pupils were almost exclusively
Jewish, and yet he felt no sense of isolation - how different
from cultural or religious minority groups today.
Phil, I hope I haven't bored you with these ramblings. I've
enjoyed putting them on paper (email!), because much is said of
anti-Semitism in the East End. That wasn't my experience,
although it no doubt existed elsewhere. Many Yiddish expressions
were incorporated into everyday usage, and Jewish food was a
great treat and a lifelong taste!
Love you website!
My Grandpa was B. Bernard & Company - Wine and Spirits merchants
on Brick Lane when I was growing up. They were there
through the 40s, 50s and early 60s. Ruby was the 'fruit
man' across the street from my Grandpa - Benjamin Bernard.
I spent so many Sundays 'in the lane' with a pickle from the
pickle stall followed by lunch at Blooms in Whitechapel.
My cousin Sandra Levitt grew up in council flats in the East
End. She bought custom made winkle picker shoes in the East End.
I went to Hasmonean Grammar School on Parson St. in Hendon and
lived in Golders Green. I now live in Mexico - life is
very different... but memories never fade
may I say how wonderful your site is, I grew up in Stepney
Green, and lived in Stepney Green Buildings. I went to
school at Stepney Jewish school, and when the war started the
School was evacuated to Windsor, and 6 of us were billeted with
the Vicar of Windsor, the Rev. Hamilton. In Church St. Right
next to the park. Thought this might be of interest to you.
photo right is of Stepney Green Dwellings, erected by Lord
Rothschild's 4% Industrial Dwelling Company in the late C19th
Phil - love the
started doing family research and though I now live in the
States, grew up in Bournemouth Trying to find out as much as
possible about the Jubilee Street Synagogue where my
grandparents married in 1924. My great grandfather was warden
of the shul, and his brother the President when Jacob Cohen died
in 1930. Jacob's son was Nat Cohen who went on to produce
grandfather had a Kosher Butcher's wholesaler and poultry store
at 28 Burslem Street, which my grandfather Hymie Cohen ran until
the 1950's. Not been able to find out much info about that as my
father is the only one living from that period.
grandfather was Solomon Cohen and he died on December 27 1939 in
Shoreham sussex but I have not been able to track down where he
other great grandparents were married at Philpot Street
Synagogue in 1904, and my other great grandparents were married
at Commercial Road synagogue ?? in 1903. Not been able to find
out much about those shuls.
A Philpot Street Ketubah (marriage certificate)
from 1931 is left - click to enlarge
Would love to
hear if anyone knows anything of these shuls or even my great
Have info to
pass on? email Dave
attended Robert Montefiore school (photo right)
but in the
1950s so I’m just a mere 70, one or two generations on. I still
have fond memories of my old Alma Mata. Since I and my wife will
be visiting London in mid May, I decided to Google a few things
like Robert Montefiore and Brady Boys Club.
My father was
Jack Greenspan the baker who used to be at 57 Umberstone Street
Whitechapel if anyone remembers. Bless his name but he passed
away in 1973 and my mother came here to Sydney Australia a year
later. She only died a couple of years back at the age of 103
years a week short of her 104th birthday.
I now live in
Sydney Australia since 1973 by way of Israel when I made Aliya, I also just found out that Yogi Mayer
passed away aged 98 last July. What a guy!
Oy vey! Is
anyone wishes to write back to Stan, click:
curious about my ancestry I idly typed in Prince let St. where
my Mum&& I lived all through the war while my Dad was away in
the army..My Bubba & Zaida died at the beginning of the war, my
Bubba was putting up the blackout curtains when she lost her
balance & fell backwards on to the gas- stove. This was when my
mum & I were evacuated to Nottingham, so we went back to look
after Zaida who soon after died of a stroke, so we stayed for
the duration of the war. Many years later I was watching a
documentary on Spitalfields called The House Detective, when he
was searching info; about the provinence of a house , the cencus
for 1898 came up & at the top of the list was the name of me
Zaida…Issac Silverstein, bootmaker of 23 Cholsey Buildings
Princelet St E1…. I was living Spain at the time so I called my
Brother to see if he could obtain a copy from the BBC but he
said they were not very cooperative. I hope to be in London at
some point in time,& I will try myself….I hope to get around to
writing a book for my Grandchildren when I get some more
information.. I had better get on the ball, tick-tock !!! Be
I am writing to from Los
Angeles Calif--I am a big fan of your website and hope one day
soon to take a walk with you through the historical Jewish east
end of London--but to more important things. I guess I am an
amateur boxing historian, particularly entered on the various
histories of Jewish boxers around the world and I noticed the
request from a grand niece of Joe Conn--there is a very partial
record of Joe's on the boxing website www. boxrec.com. She
should also write to Miles Templeton at prewarboxing.co.uk who I
know as a very up to date record of Joe's. He had over a 100
hundred fights winning about 2/3 of his bouts, so we was a very
accomplished fighter. Best, Ron (Sid) Schneck--p.s. I would love
to know about the Jewish east end and the fact that probably of
hundreds of Jewish boxers came out of that neighborhood in the
first half of the 20th century. In the US people only know about
the 2 greatest east London Jewish boxers namely Ted "Kid" Lewis
and Jackie "Kid" Berg.
Stepney Jewish School, a
1938 class photo
Stepney Jewish School,
Stepney Green, today
I've just found your great site and its reopened long dormant
memories of my childhood the East End in the early 1950s.
Especially Great Garden Street shule , which I used to go to
with my Zaida on the Yomtovim.
I don't know if you can point me in the right direction - I'm
trying to find my childhood friend Martin Kaye. Martin lived in
Sydney Street in the early to mid 1950s. We lost contact
sometime after my family emigrated to NZ in the late 1950s.
Cheers, Len Shenker
I'm trying to
find a photo of The Essex Tavern which stood at the
junction of Middlesex St & Aldgate High St. My grandfather Mark Grodentz was the manager of this pub until he died in 1936, he
had a traditional east end funeral and was buried at the Jewish
Cemetary in Montaque Rd Edmonton. My grandmother Catherine (kayla)
Levy was the sister of the infamous Moses(Moe)Levy and was one
of eleven living siblings.
you can provide will be gratefully received.
was Lily Rose Kisko but I think the surname was changed to Rose.
They had a barber's shop in London-C.Rose. The family went from
Palestine to Russia and Spain about 2 centuries ago. We have
lost the family tree. My grandmother had 2 sisters myrtle and
renee and a brother sonny who died young. My grandmother died in
September 1988 married name Franklin. Does anyone remember them?
writing the life story (and the story of looking for the
lifestory!) of Elizabeth Barnett who was known in her adult life
as Lily Benson. She was born between 1891 and 93 or so. Probably
born in London or its surroundings. Her family had a bakery and
were quite well off. Many of the family seem to have been killed
during the War - the Blitz maybe? She is also said to have had
a son who died of something like pneumonia at 21. It looks as
if, from the age of four or so, she was on stage in big London
theatres. She said herself that she danced and sang with Alice
and Marie Lloyd as a child, when they were already grown up
stars. She toured England as a young woman, playing variety in
the Regions. She may have been in a long term relationship with
a Phil Lister from her late teens. He played musical Handbells.
They relocated to Ireland in 1929. They stayed there for the
rest of their lives. They were hugely loved on the Irish variety
circuit and by their audiences. I'd love to be able to link with
descendants and share the piece I'm writing for Lily. And it
would be great to learn more about her family. I"m at
firstname.lastname@example.org if you can post this.
Thanks, and I
look forward to browsing the site more thoroughly!
I am not sure if
you can help at all?
I am currently
researching my family history, and I have ancestors who lived in
77 Brady Street from1876-1896. They were Bakers, can you tell
me if this was a bakery? I am looking for any information about
the area at this time, photos etc would be great. If you could
point me in the right direction for sources of info I would be
very grateful. There are quite a lot of ancestors from the
Bethnal Green and Whitechapel area, but these are the ones that
I am currently working on.
If you could
please email back to
email@example.com as this email address is
easier for me to keep a check on.
I grew up in the
east end.was born in Walburgh street.Right near to Hestle
street,we always called the Jew's Market.
It was nice
finding your site and seeing all those familiar street
names.brought back so many memories.
I keep searching
for a photo of Walburgh Street,before and afdter the war,I
wonder if you have come across any.
lived in Walburgh street from about 1886.My father was born in
the same house as were we,till they were pulled down in the
brother sent me the link to your site which i found fascinating. My
brother, sister and i originate from Whitechapel, where my
Grandfather, Frank Jacobs, was for many years the landlord of the
Black Bull Public House (corner of Valance Road and Whitechapel
Road) which is where my mother and her sister grew up.
all attended Stepney Jewish school (opposite the dwellings where my
grandmother lived, and then Robert Montefiore Secondary School in
Valance Road along with my cousin who lived in Batson House just off
Henriques Street (1 street from the Oxford and St Georges Club). We
all attended and later became Managers at, Brady Club (both the old
which was situated in Durward Street off of Brady Street) and the
new, which is now the Brady Centre. I also used to take the Brady
Boys under 15 Football team every Sunday to games on Hackney Marshes
and the Elms. I also occasionally attended the Stepney Jewish Club
in Beaumont Square.
lived in Grindall House on the Collingwood Estate in Darling Row,
(where the 653 trolley bus (later to become the 253) used to stop
outside of the Brewery, and is now a Sainsburys) which was a road
that ran between Cambridge Heath Road and Brady Street, behind the
Blind Beggar Public House.
always remember walking along the "Waist" - Whitechapel Saturday
Market and going to either Lens or Eddies bookstall, which were
placed at opposite ends of the market, Len near to Valance Road and
Eddie just across Cambridge Heath Road. But treat of treats was to
go to Sam's hut (corner of Cambridge Heath Road) for a Sam's Super
Special!!! Sam's was of course a small hut next to the Murphys pub
and he made American Soda drinks and the Super Special had ice cream
in -- i can almost taste it now and my mouth is watering.
story, my wife and i have a timeshare in Tenerife and also 1 in
Lanzarote. We were in Lanzarote this year and sitting in one of
the bars in our resort. The "entertainment" began and it was a
male singer. I mentioned to my wife that the singer, Gary i
think his name was, sounded east end(ish). When he had finished,
he walked by us and enquired whether we had enjoyed his act, we
got talking and it transpired he was born and lived in Bethnall
Green about 3/4 streets from me and he was 2 years younger than
nights later we were listening to a chap called Chrissy Looker,
another singer who was conducting a song quiz during his act,
which i and my wife were doing quite well at (seeing as though
the songs were from my era) and he too came and had a chat.
Chris was born and raised in Stepney and not only was he a
publican but later on a postman operating from the "new post
office" in Whitechapel. Not only did he deliver to our flats but
his cousins lived on the top floor of our flats and we all used
to play together!!!
strange of what??? We go half way around the world only to find
2 people that were born, lived and grew up a few streets away
and i have probably passed by in the street many times. To add
to this i used to play with one of their cousins! Anyway
its been nice talking.
My name is
Steve Morpurgo and brother and sister are Frank and Jean.
Are you on Facebook??
I am, though not sure why! Phil)
your website Phil.
family lived in London possibly as early as the mid 1700s
Here's a potted
history of my great grandad which you might find interesting?
My great grandad
Elijah Isaacs got off to a bad start. Soon after his birth on
21st March 1848, the Aldgate registrar made out his birth
certificate to "Eliza" and put him down as a girl.
He was born at
27 Hutchison Avenue, Gravel Lane, an address which is a trifle
baffling as the census shows Hutchison Avenue to fizzle out
before number 27. Maybe that address was more upmarket sounding
than mere Gravel Lane?
The real mystery
is why he was born in London at all as his parents had moved
from London and married in 1837 in Birmingham. All I can think
is that a family member was not too well and the family had gone
to London to pay their last respects.
Their trip had
its downside, as the Elijah's father went bankrupt shortly
afterwards. Maybe the high cost of temporarily moving to London
and deserting his tailoring business was the last straw?
Birmingham when he was a teenager, Elijah met Jessie Smith in
Liverpool, married and opened a habberdashers & tailors shop.
Lewis was Jewish, and his sons and grandsons remained so over a
period of over 100 years (that's another story) but Elijah must
have deserted the faith when he was married in the Liverpool
Registry Office in 1873.
raised a family of 8 children the old boy must have decided on a
change and, in 1891, deserted his wife and ran off with a young
catholic girl nearly half his age.
shortly afterwards, it is said of a broken heart.
Within a few
months Elijah had married his girlfriend and they had a child
who sadly died only a few months old.
were clearly upset about the whole affair, and all changed their
name from Isaacs to Henry. Except my grandad.
Elijah duly met
his end, rejected by his children and died in the Liverpool
Workhouse infirmary and was buried in an unmarked grave in a
plot reserved for penniless catholics. His second wife died
have been so different. Around 1892 a chap by the name of Marks,
visiting Liverpool, asked him if he was interested in joining
him and opening a chain of habberdashers.... Elijah, it is said,
had other things on his mind and declined, leaving the way open
for a Mr Spencer.
lived in Wentworth street in the late 1950’s as a child. I
remember it well!
went to school in old montague street, I’ve since visited and
the school is no longer there.
One thing that I remember very fondly is my mum had a friend
that worked/ owned a wet fish shop in the area..her name was
Kitty Bass, I wonder if anyone remembers the shop or the owners.
I see one of your photo’s is of a fish shop.
Love your site, well done for keeping so many memories alive.
have managed to purchase from Amazon a dvd...The London nobody
knows...James Mason. Can’t wait to see it.
Once again thank you for your time.
Kind regards, Ann
In 1950 I went to work for SNG & A Mackover, located on
Whitechapel Rd not far from Gardeners Corner. There was a cafe
next door named "Curlies". Before WW2 my father had a tailors
factory on Mansell Street and we had relatives on Romford
Street. We also had relatives on Broomhead Street in the East
End. I also worked on weekends on Peticoat Lane. I remember
Blooms Restaurant also in Whitechapel
I have lived in the USA since 1954 and am now in Arizona.
Would love to hear from you and maybe take a tour when I shall
be in England next August for ten days.
Best wishes for Chanukkah, Shalom,
Grandfather Myer Berg (aka vandenburg) lived in stoney lane
buildings. He was secretary of an Anglo Dutch club which helped the dutch
Family history says that because of this he was the co-founder
with Mike Stern (who I regularly met with my dad)
of the Stepney Street Traders Association.
Dad and grandad both went to Jews FRee School in Bell
Lane. Do you have any info on the Anglo Dutch Club or his
with Stepney street traders?
Thank you - I loved your site.
My name is Monty
Mallin.In your web page you mentioned Ruth London who is a
mutual friend of mine.
Have known Ruth since I was 17 years old and I am now 81 and
living in Perth West Australia and have done since 1962.But have
been in touch with her and many other friends from Oxford & St
Georges.I also did the walking tour of yours a number of years
back when on a visit to London. I found your web page
fascinating and kept me glued to my computer for hours. It was
sent to me by another friend Alf Wilkins another member of
OstG.Did you belong to a Jewish Youth Club?
Hoping to hear
from you sometime
website copyright of Philip